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Didi’s Collection helps female traders regroup

Mrs Matsepo 'Didi' Manaka (left) displaying her line of sleep-wear

Nov. 14, 2020 3 min read

3 min read

THE raging COVID-19 pandemic has had devastating effects on businesses across the board, but its impact has particularly been more evident on small private enterprises owned by women.

The lack of active social life and poor trade opportunities are slowly forcing most women to give up on business and some have actually closed shop to seek employment elsewhere.

But a few brave traders like Matšepo Manaka, owner of Didi’s Collection – a local clothing line that specialises in designer female night-wear, are prepared to stand their ground and face the calamity head on.

Last Sunday, the company hosted a chic sip and shop pop-up shopping show at the Shoeshoe Gardens in Katlehong, Maseru, where an array of brands, either produced locally or imported were on market.

Products on display ranged from designer outfits, accessories, sleep-wear, shoes and hand-bags to mention a few.

Various types of wine brands and refreshments were also on sale for revellers who were dressed to the nines.

Men and women happy to be outdoors for a change enjoyed a glass of wine as they networked and shopped around from the exquisitely designed shopping stalls.

The plan, according to Mrs Manaka was to combat the effects of COVID-19 on businesses and to re-establish such businesses in the market as well as replenish their income.

She said it was also aimed at promoting businesses which produce brands of all sorts, from luxury clothing to craft products.

“It is a need of the hour to save the people from the impact of the pandemic, after most of them lost their businesses, they need a platform to create awareness for their brands,” she also said.

To prevent fellow female entrepreneurs from completely running out of business, Mrs Manaka better known in the business industry as Didi came up with the idea of selling their products through this rare but classy open market outlet.

“The aim is to see women supporting each other when in the business world, instead of competing even if they sell the same products,” she said.

As they absorb the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, she said they also need to take strong actions to build back better. 

“We cannot allow the pandemic to set back a generation of entrepreneurial women, we need to help each reopen, and stay open so that we can continue creating jobs in our communities,” she also showed.  

One of the revellers, Khoboso Motsoakeletsa – owner of the Bozo Design and Arts said unless her business gets external intervention, perhaps from government, she does not see it making it through.

“But I am confident that the show has exposed us to new clients because we could no longer depend on the old ones alone,” she said.

Revelers at the sip and shop show

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Ms Motsoakeletsa added: “Lack of funding, confidence and market have presented significant challenges to women in business, all of which are compounded by the current pandemic and economic crisis.”

She said if female traders hope to survive, they will need more government support than they are currently getting.

To provide a boost of inspiration for those who are making both large and small changes every day, Ms Motsoakeletsa encouraged them to do the best they can in every task.

“Do not let financial limitations prevent you from starting businesses, no matter how unimportant it may seem,” she said.

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